01) The Forest – January 8
Director: Jason Zada (Take This Lollipop, The Houses October Built) Cast: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken and Stephanie Vogt First film of the new year benefits from a creepy premise ghost story set within the Aokigahara Forest in Japan at the base of Mount Fuji. This forest is also known as the Sea of Trees and, more apt for our horror film, the Suicide Forest with many legends of demons from Japanese mythology dancing under the dark canopy. Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones stars as twin sisters, Sara and Jess Price where one sister desperately searches for the other whom she fears is forever lost to The Forest. The film is from the writer of The Houses October Built and the director of the Bill Oberst Jr short Take This Lollipop. The Forest could be an early winner for 2016.
02) The Boy – January 22
Director: William Brent Bell (Wer, The Devil Inside) Cast: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Ben Robson It may take a set of chains, a pocket full of promises and a secret stash of benzodiazepines to get Horror News Radio co-host Santos Ellin, Jr. (The Black Saint) into the theater to see The Boy. Not only is it from the director of The Devil Inside, it also features a life-sized doll of a boy that may be alive or, worse yet, possessed. But, be sure the podcast will cover the film, so he’s obligated. Bwah hah hah. The film stars Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead and Rupert Evans from Hellboy (2004).
03) Martyrs – January 22
Director: Kevin Goetz, Michael Goetz (Scenic Route) Cast: Troian Bellisario, Caitlin Carmichael, Kate Burton When we first heard news that the French-Canadian gore-shocker Martyrs was being remade, we were not only surprised that its was going to happen but that it was already completed. The U.S. take on the Pascal Laugier film will make its way to theaters in January 22 with a limited run from Anchor Bay Films before a larger VOD, DVD and Blu-Ray release on February 2. Kevin and Michael Goetz direct the remake from a script by Mark L. Smith who helped pen the critically acclaimed The Revenant as well as The Hole from Joe Dante and the Vacancy films. The cast is lead by a pair of new-comers Troian Bellisario and Caitlin Carmichael along with Kate Burton in the “mother” role, she was also “Margo” in Big Trouble in Little China.
04) JeruZalem – January 22
Director: Doran Paz, Yoav Paz Cast: Yael Grobglas, Yon Tumarkin, Danielle Jadelyn “On Judgement Day, hell shall inherit the Earth.” – the tagline for Isreali horror film JeruZalem promises the apocalypse…in biblical proportions. Making first impressions in various film festivals in 2015 – Fright Fest and Fantasia to name a few – the film makes its way Stateside to frighten horror fans with the walking dead, monsters and hysteria filmed in some of the most sacred places in the region such as the Wailing Wall and Temple Mount. Did I mention it is found footage?
05) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – February 5
Director: Burr Steers Cast: Lily James, Lena Headey, Charles Dance, Jack Huston and Matt Smith The film is based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody of Jane Austin’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice, introducing flesh eating zombies into the mix. Grahame-Smith’s book is widely popular leading to a number of copy cat titles, including his own Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. In this rendition, when the zombie apocalypse invades 19th century England, Elizabeth Bennet becomes a zombie hunter extraordinaire, learning how to wield a sword and master martial arts. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies promises to be big, goofy, gory fun.
06) The Witch – February 26
Director: Robert Eggers Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie It intensely creepy trailer for The Witch is already called the scariest horror trailer of the year. Robert Eggers tale of witchcraft, black magic and possession is, for many horror fans, the most anticipated horror film of the coming year. The film, which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, is already known for its impressive direction and frightening conclusion. Can The Witch do for witchcraft what The Exorcist did for possession? We will all find out come February 26.
07) The Other Side of the Door – March 11
Director: Johannes Roberts (Storage 24) Cast: Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sisto Yearning to see her deceased son one last time to say goodbye, a grieving mother bargains with the supernatural when she approaches a mysterious – and dangerous – doorway to the other side. Ignoring warning never to open the door, she gives into her misery and lets out ghosts, creatures and demons to terrorize her nightmares. Johannes Roberts leads Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto into a terrifying world of the undead with an intriguing story that makes the most of Monkey’s Paw and Pet Sematary themes, fears and frights.
08) Rings – April 1
Director: F. Javier Gutierrez Cast: Johnny Galecki, Aimee Teegarden, Laura Wiggins Originally set to be released November 12, 2015, very little is known about Rings, a sequel to The Ring (2002) franchise that returns to the mythology of Samara, the U.S. version of Sadako from the Japanese Ringu. Expect to see more creepy VHS tape footage and scary girls with long black hair. At this point, the film seems poised to drift into the forgotten land of unwanted sequels, but given we have seen absolutely nothing of the film at the time of this writing, it could very well surprise us all and scare the living crap out of us. The April 1 release date steers this in an undesirable direction however. Time will tell.
09) Before I Wake – April 8
Director: Mike Flanagan (Oculus) Cast: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Annabeth Gish Originally titled Somnia, Mike Flanagan’s follow up to his hit horror feature Oculus, was originally scheduled to be released on May 8, 2015 but the troubled history of its distributor Relativity Media pushed its release back to April 8, 2016. The film, featuring Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane, explores what happens when an orphaned child’s dreams begin to come to life. What begins as a dream turns to a horrifying nightmare. Doc Rotten and The Black Saint are at odds once again as Doc champions Flanagan enjoying both Oculus and Absentia while The Black Saint refers to the former as “Suckulus” – oh, dear.
10) Amityville: The Awakening – April 15
Director: Franck Khalfoun (Maniac) Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bella Thorne, Cameron Monaghan Yet another feature that was delayed from a 2015 release, Amityville: The Awakening returns to the familiar haunted house with a new cast encountering the spirits and demons possessing the Amityville Horror. Franck Khalfoun is a hit-and-miss director with the inspired Maniac remake on one hand and the dreadful I-Lived on the other. The late spring horror offering will likely benefit from its cast as much as its namesake with Jennifer Jason Leigh riding the award season from her turn in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Cameron Monaghan winning fans as his Joker-like character from the last season of Gotham. Of course, Bella Thorne is a favorite for the ex-Disney Channel crowd.
11) The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist – June 10
Director: James Wan (Insidious, Furious 7) Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Frances O’Connor Speaking of The Amityville Horror, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return to the roles of Ed and Lorraine Warren who were famously involved in the investigation into the horrifying events of that real-life story. Featured in James Wan’s The Conjuring (2013), the Warrens now head overseas to tackle the Enfield Poltergeist in the London Borough of Enfield. Nobody handles the paranormal as well as James Wan and The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist promises to give horror fans the scares they love from the director of such hits as Saw, Insidious and, of course, The Conjuring. Prepare to be scared.
12) Ghostbusters – July 15
Director: Paul Fieg Cast: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones Fans of the original Ghostbuster films have been teased with a possible third film for decades, mostly surrounding reuniting the original cast of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. But time has not been kind to the franchise. Comedy director Paul Fieg (Bridesmaids, Spy) has finally stepped up to take the reins of the franchise casting an all-female cast in the title roles, featuring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Early images promise a return to familiar costumes, proton packs and ghostly logos. The film’s story is hush-hush, but the many cameos have been slipped, including Murray, Aykroyd, Hudson and Signorney Weaver as well as Ozzy Osborne and Annie Potts. If only Rick Moranis would return, all would be right in the world.
13) Rob Zombie’s 31 – TBD (Sundance Premiere January 23)
Director: Rob Zombie Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson, Meg Foster, Lew Temple, Sheri Moon Zombie and many, many more At the time of this writing, the actual release of Rob Zombie’s 31 is unknown but it will premiere at Sundance on January 23rd. The film continues to get notice for its growing, character actor filled cast and its promise of gore and violence. The film is fighting with the MPAA, struggling to get an R rating receiving an NC-17 result…twice – the MPAA siting “sadistic graphic violence, bizarre sexuality/nudity, pervasive disturbing images and some strong language.” A publicity stunt, possibly. Could this be a return to the ferocity of Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects? The Black Saint would be content if it was another The Lords of Salem. Either way, Rob Zombie’s 31 is sure to have its share of fans and haters. These are only 13 of the horror films heading our way in 2016. The list of films grows every day. Other films include – but are not limited to – Viral, Southbound, The Purge 3, 6 Miranda Drive, The Neon Demon, Cell, The Strangers 2, Spectral, Lights Out, When the Bough Breaks, A Man in the Dark, Patient Zero and Baskin. A Monster Calls and The BFG look to give us some creature feature fun and Marvel gets supernatural with Doctor Strange with some lighter horror-tinged fare. Leatherface may return, Selene & Kate Beckinsale resurface in Underworld 5 and who knows what else follows close behind. Be sure to look for a future episode of Horror News Radio where the grue-crew dive into the most anticipated horror films of 2016.